Calvin Johnson makes a leaping touchdown catch over two Packers defenders.
Coming into today's game, I wrote the Lions' chances of winning off completely and thought they would get blown out of the stadium by the Packers. That was a huge mistake, though. The Lions put up a fight today in Green Bay and came up just short, losing by a score of 28-26.
Early on, despite lots of penalties, an untimely interception in the red zone (Jahvid Best fell down) and Aaron Rodgers torching Detroit's secondary, the Lions hung around and stayed in the game. In the second quarter, Detroit actually tied things up with a 23-yard pass from Shaun Hill to Calvin Johnson. Detroit was playing very well as the scoreboard showed.
Things started to go downhill in the rest of the second quarter after Aaron Rodgers threw a pair of rather quick touchdown passes (thanks in part to a Best fumble on the Lions' side of the field). Green Bay's lead ballooned to 14 points, and things were looking grim. At the end of the first half, though, Detroit put together a solid drive, and unlike last week where they ran the clock down and settled for a field goal, Hill threw a touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson. Johnson made the awesome grab in double coverage to cut the lead down to seven points. (Detroit had a chance at a 55-yard field goal after GB fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but Jason Hanson's kick was short.)
In the second half, things got off to an awful start, as Hill was picked off by Charles Woodson, who returned it 48 yards for a touchdown. Again the Lions were down two touchdowns, but they once again battled back, putting together good drives in the third quarter that resulted in two Hanson field goals.
The defense played extremely well in the fourth quarter and really the second half in general, forcing two interceptions. Also, the Lions forced and recovered another fumble in Green Bay territory on a kickoff. The fumble gave Detroit the ball with an excellent chance to take the lead. Unfortunately, the fumble, like the two interceptions, resulted in a field goal rather than a touchdown, which turned out to be the difference in this game.
After another stop, the Lions' offense got the ball back and had their drive stall just outside of field goal range. Woodson should have been called for pass interference, which would have kept the drive alive, but no flags were thrown. Green Bay took over after a Nick Harris punt and simply ran the final 6:32 off the clock to seal the 28-26 victory.
Say what you want about some of the mistakes that were made today, such as the three turnovers or 13 penalties for 102 yards, but the Lions played an awesome game. They dominated Green Bay in the boxscore, outgaining them by 170 yards and controlling the ball for 37:37 compared to 22:23 for the Packers. If not for the untimely turnovers and settling for field goals instead of touchdowns, the Lions would have won this game by at least a couple touchdowns.
At the end of the day a win or loss is all that matters to some, which is understandable. However, this was the definition of a moral victory, as it showed some serious signs of hope going forward. The defense played an excellent game after being lit up by Rodgers in the first half, forcing four turnovers and giving the Lions' offense plenty of chances to put points on the board. And speaking of the offense, how about Shaun Hill? He completed 34 of 54 passes for 331 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran the ball four times for 53 yards and overall played a hell of a game.
Although it sucks that the Lions are off to a 0-4 start, at least we now have something positive to think about going forward. Many, myself included, expected Green Bay to blow out Detroit, but they played a hell of a game and nearly ended the losing streak in Wisconsin. I know it's not a win, but hopefully we can feel a little better about the Lions this upcoming week as we look ahead to Detroit's game with St. Louis next Sunday.